New weight restrictions for the Port’s venerable sling launcher

We want all our customers to know how much we appreciate their business.
By Bob McChesney, Executive Director, Port of Edmonds | Jun 21, 2012

The Port of Edmonds has the only public boat launching facility between Seattle's Shilshole Bay and Mukilteo.

We are one of the few places on Puget Sound where boaters can launch boats from trailers without having to back their trailer into highly corrosive saltwater.

The Port has three launching systems, each designed for a unique purpose.

Our big 50-ton Travelift is used mainly to move large vessels—up to 60-feet long—from the water to and from our boat workyard.

At the south end of the marina is our dry stack storage facility, where boats are stored out of the water between uses.

Here we employ two hydraulic launchers and two large capacity marine forklifts.

However, the real workhorse of the Port’s launching lineup is our sling launcher in the mid-marina area.

It was installed 20 years ago and serves people with trailerable boats. It operates year around, although it is at its busiest during peak fishing periods.

Maintenance on heavily used equipment like this is always an issue, but last season we noticed that the motors on the sling launcher seemed to be working harder than they should, giving rise to safety concerns.

Unfortunately, we had no real way of determining whether the motors were being asked to lift larger loads than they were designed for as the launcher was constructed without scales.

Over the years Port staff has relied on each boat owner’s documentation to establish the weight of their boat.

Those straining motors told us that it was time for a more accurate system, so we recently installed calibrated scales that allow us to ensure that we only launch boats within the lifting capacity of the equipment.

Sadly, one byproduct of this more efficient system is that we have to turn away boats with a gross weight of more than 7,500 pounds.

We are not settling for those restrictions as anything other than a temporary solution, however, and are looking into ways that we might be able to increase the weight capacity of our current equipment.

Until we know whether that can be done, however, we will have to continue to turn away boats that exceed the maximum allowable weight.

As I remind our staff often, here at the Port of Edmonds safety and customer service are our top priorities. We want all our customers to know how much we appreciate their business.

It is our fervent hope that we will be able to once again serve these marginally overweight boats in the not-too-distant future.




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